Film review: Prizzi’s Honor (1985), directed by John Huston
Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson) works as a hitman for the mob, that is to say the Prizzi family. At a wedding, he sees – and falls in love with – Irene Walker (Kathleen Turner). Things would be just peachy, if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s a hired assassin.
And that complicates things, especially when they decide to pull off a kidnapping together – and accidentally shoot a policeman’s wife who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Meanwhile, Maerose Prizzi (Anjelica Huston), who once upon a time was engaged to Charley, doesn’t like her old flame having found a new love, so she plots to throw spanners into the works.
Also starring John Randolph as ‘Pop’ Partanna, CCH Pounder in a cameo as a pot-smoking maid (!), and the Prizzis: Eduardo (Robert Loggia), Don Corrado (William Hickey) and Dominic (Lee Richardson).
I did not take to this film at all. I feel sorry for all Italian Americans, because not only do they always get portrayed in films as having heavy mobster accents, and they’re always, of course, in the mob. The Family. Must get really tiresome.
Nicholson’s character seemed half lobotimised at times, and the love story was confusing. Apparently, they were actually in love, for real. I fully expected Turner’s character to lead him on and at any point turn around and … I don’t know, shoot him? Scam him? Not … trying to live happily ever after.
The Don creeped me out. At first, when you see him in church, I thought “hey, he kind of looks like an older version of … uh … wossname” (Christian Camargo). Then he spoke. And then I wanted to cower into a ball and tell the bad man to go away. Creepy creepy creepy!! And at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder how much the actor had smoked in his life, because his face was a dead giveaway, and he sounded short of breath. Looked him up, and wasn’t surprised to discover he had emphysema and died aged 69 (in 1997), meaning he was 56 or 57 when this film was made. He looked about 85.
There’s just something about maffia films that make me yawn. Unless it’s Bugsy Malone, because that film has an awesome soundtrack. Sure, the opera and classical music in this one was good too, but … it was still about the maffia. Yawn?
Nah, I just didn’t like it, and couldn’t get into it. Found out later that it received a bunch of Academy Award nominations. Angelica Huston even won for Best Supporting Actress, and didn’t just score an Oscar in that category, but a bunch of other awards too. Apparently the director, John Huston, was her dad, and this was his penultimate film, as he passed away in 1987.
Nicholson is a very good actor. I really like Kathleen Turner. Anjelica Huston is fab. But the film was not the sort of comedy I expected, and because it said it was a comedy, I watched it. So it was disappointing. Maybe I should just avoid mob films in the future.
2 out of 5 families.